Sunday Brunch! Ham & Mozzarella Bread Pudding

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ham and mozz

Good morning, and Happy Easter Sunday! I hope you all have lovely days planned with family and friends? Today I have an adaptation of a Sainsburys recipe for an amazing brunch: Ham and Mozzarella bread pudding. The children are waking REALLY early since it’s gotten lighter in the morning (hello, 5.15am), so despite a good breakfast and a snack, they are often ravenous by late morning- cue the need for great brunch ideas!

This brunch is super-tasty, and feels just that bit fancy, despite it really taking no effort at all.

The original recipe uses spinach (which is what I would usually choose to use), but I swapped it for blanched peas instead, as Freddie and Sasha won’t go near the stuff. I served this with some salad, and a bit of tomato ketchup on the side (natch).

You will need:

  • 260g bag young spinach.
  • 300ml semi-skimmed milk.
  • 4 large eggs.
  • 15g fresh chives (or flat-leaf parsley), snipped.
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika.
  • 10 slices medium white bread, cut into triangles
  • 100g ham, chopped.
  • 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced.
  • 125g pack mozzarella, drained and torn.

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C,fan 180°C, gas 6. Pierce the bag of spinach and microwave on high for 1 minute, until wilted. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, most of the chives, 1⁄2 tsp of the paprika and some freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Line a 1.5-litre ovenproof dish with a layer of the bread triangles, overlapping slightly. Top with 1⁄2 the ham, spinach and tomatoes, then pour over 1⁄2 the egg mixture. Repeat with the remaining ham, spinach, tomatoes and egg mixture.
  4. Top with the mozzarella and sprinkle over the remaining paprika and chives. Bake for 20-25 minutes until set and golden.
  5. Serve with the salad.

Home Comforts! Vintage ‘Vogue’ Mirror

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This vintage early 1970s ‘Vogue’ mirror was salvaged from the house clearance place on our street, where I have found many treasures prior, and also where I source some of my vintage crockery from. At £15, it was a bargain in comparison to the over-priced £174 I’ve seen a similar one go for elsewhere online! When I first discovered the mirror, it was in a horrible grey, metal frame, so we paid £30 to replace it with a smart black one. The ‘Vogue’ print on the mirror is a replica of a February 1919 issue of Vogue, which I love, especially as I’ve since got hooked on that era, thanks a lot to Downton Abbey! The mirror is a bit too heavy to be hung on the wall, so it now has pride of place in our living room fireplace, where it look great as a statement piece in the room.

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#TBT – Freddie’s 1st Year in Pictures!

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Now, when people ask me about blogging, and how can I be bothered to do it so often, my first answer is often “I wish i’d done it sooner!”. It really is the modern day equivalent of a diary- only with a few other people reading it too! I would have loved to have started the blog in my early twenties, and documented travels, my forays into different careers, thoughts, cities/towns/flats/houses lived in, plus of course, two pregnancies, births and the early baby days. I SO wish i’d written down when the children had done things as babies, as even now I can’t quite remember when Freddie’s first tooth came in (7 months, ish?), or when Sasha started crawling properly (8 months?).

So I’ve decided to write ‘Throw Back Thursday (or whatever day of the week I can be arsed to write them)’ posts, using some of our photos from life pre-blog, in order to start building up a mini scrapbook of what happened and when- if I can remember that is!

Above, is the first 12 months of Freddie’s life, in pictures- one for every month. Looking back at them makes me realise that time really DOES fly, and is so very precious. They really won’t be tiny for long! It really does seem like a lifetime away, even though it’s only been 3 years. When he was born, we were living in our flat in Beckenham, and I don’t think either of us would have thought that Sasha was going to join us in little over a year’s time!

Freddie & Sasha’s Easter Reads!

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The last couple of weeks we have been adding a few ‘Easter’ and ‘Spring’ themed reads to our usual repertoire of books!

First up, is a popular one in our household, ‘Peppa’s Easter Egg Hunt’, where Peppa and chums go on an Easter egg hunt Granny and Grandpa Pig’s house, and meet some hatching baby chicks. Simple, and with cheerful pictures, this is a great book for little ones, and have served Sasha in particular well in feeding her Peppa addiction (I swear that pig is toddler crack), and for getting into the superficial swing of Easter (read: chocolate eggs).

Next, we’ve been counterbalancing the lightweight ‘Peppa Easter’ with a great little book that simplifies the real Easter Story for the little ones. ‘The Easter Bible Storybook’  tells the rise of Jesus again in fab pictures, and the whole point of the celebration of Easter, in simple terms for small people. We’re not crazy-religious of anything, but I think it’s important that if you’re going to milk certain aspects of a celebration/festival/holiday, you need to know the main background of it. It’s obviously going in, as the kids keep shouting “Jesus is alive!” loudly in the garden, making us sound like proper hardcore Christians. Which is probably not a bad thing, since we’re getting married in our lovely local church next year, and need all the help we can get!

And lastly, a classic and a lovely spring book for younger toddlers ‘That’s Not My Lamb’, which Sasha is still really into. She loves feeling the different textures, and is using the descriptive words really well, and appropriately now at nearly 2. An Easter must-have for babies upwards!

Do you have a favourite Easter storybook?

Our Easter Menu! Spring Lamb, Mint Sauce, Vegetable Platter, Chianti Gravy, and Super-Quick Lemon & Raspberry Cheesecake

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The other Sunday we decided to cook an early Easter meal for the four of us. It was a day when we were pottering about. The weather was great so Freddie and Sasha were kept amused outside, and meant that Adam and I could enjoy cooking together without us being too distracted, or rushed for time. Perfect, as we really do enjoy cooking together and trying new recipes and ideas out. It’s something we really must try and do more of!

As part of my #cookbook challenge, we decided to tackle a main and dessert from Jamie Oliver’s ’30 Minute Meals’- Spring Lamb (with veggies), Mint Sauce, Chianti Gravy & Steamed, Buttered Vegetables, and Quick Raspberry and Lemon Cheesecakes. I love lamb, as it really reminds me of spring time (sorry all you gambling lambs in fields!), and cooked right is just delicious. I also really associate lemon and raspberries with the start of summer, so we thought that this combo would make a great pre-Easter/ start of spring Sunday lunch. And whilst i’m adamant that Jamie’s meals take a good deal longer than 30 minutes, this is still relatively quick and easy!

Jamie’s Spring Lamb, Chianti Gravy, Mint Sauce, Vegetable Platter

You will need: 

For the lamb:

  • 1 quality 8-bone rack of lamb, fat removed
  • 1 2-piece pack quality lamb neck fillet, approximately 250g
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • white wine vinegar
  • 300 g cherry tomatoes on the vine

For the gravy:

  • 4 rashers higher-welfare smoked bacon
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
  • ½ glass red wine

For the vegetables:

  • 500 g baby new potatoes
  • 250 g baby carrots
  • 1 bunch fresh mint, stalks of
  • 1 organic chicken stock cube
  • 200 g fine beans
  • 200 g runner beans
  • ½ Savoy cabbage
  • 200 g frozen peas
  • 1 knob butter
  • ½ lemon

For the mint sauce:

  • 1 bunch fresh mint, leaves from
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon golden caster sugar

Instructions: 

Get all your ingredients and equipment ready. Put a large frying pan and a large saucepan on a high heat. Fill and boil the kettle. Turn the oven on to 220°C/425°F/gas 7.

Halve the rack of lamb, then season with salt & pepper and add to the frying pan with a lug of olive oil.

Wash the potatoes and trim the tops of the carrots. Add everything to the large saucepan with a pinch of salt. Rip the leafy tops off the bunch of mint and put aside for the mint sauce. Make sure the band is still around the stalks, then add them to the saucepan. Just cover with boiled water and crumble in the chicken stock cube. Put the lid on.

Drizzle olive oil straight into the pack of neck fillet and season. Turn the racks of lamb then put the two neck fillets in the pan. Sear the ends of the meat and keep coming back to the pan and turning each piece so they brown all over. 

Pull the leaves off 3 sprigs of rosemary and put into a pestle & mortar with a good pinch of salt & pepper. Peel the garlic, add to the mortar, and pound really well. Turn the lamb over. Add Dijon mustard to the mortar with a good couple of lugs of olive oil and a swig of white wine vinegar. Mix well.

Make sure all sides of the lamb are seared, then use tongs to transfer all of it to a roasting tray. Pour away most of the fat in the pan, then put it back on a very low heat for the gravy. Spoon the dressing from the pestle & mortar over the lamb and put the vines of cherry tomatoes on top. Move everything around until well coated in the dressing. Sprinkle with salt, then whack on the top shelf of the oven and set the timer for 14 minutes for blushing to medium meat, slightly less for rare, and more for well done. Turn the racks over halfway through.

Finely slice the bacon and put into the frying pan.

Finely chop the reserved mint leaves and add to the unwashed pestle & mortar. Pound, then add the red wine vinegar, caster sugar, a pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons of cooking water from the veg pot. Muddle together with the pestle, have a taste to check the balance, and add a tiny splash of extra virgin olive oil. Take to the table with a spoon. 

Turn the heat under the bacon right up and add the leaves from the rosemary. Stir in the flour, red wine and a few ladles of cooking water.

Trim all the beans and put the runner beans through a runner bean slicer or slice at an angle, 1cm thick. Cut the Savoy cabbage half in two and click off any tatty outer leaves, then discard the stalk. Cut the cabbage into thin wedges. Add the cabbage, beans and peas to the saucepan, then stir and put the lid back on.

Turn the lamb over. If your tomatoes are colouring too much, lean the meat on top of them.

Stir in a spoonful of cooking water if needed.

When the 14 minutes are up, take your lamb out of the oven and leave it to rest for a minute.

Drain the veg in a colander, then return them to the pan. Drizzle well with extra virgin olive oil, and add a good pinch of salt & pepper and a knob of butter. Squeeze over the juice of ½ a lemon and toss well. Tip on to a large serving platter and take to the table.

Taste and correct the seasoning, then pour into a gravy boat and take to the table.

Cut the racks into individual chops and slice up the neck fillet. Pile on a platter. Move most of the cherry tomatoes to the platter on top of the lamb, mushing the rest into the cooking juices. Stir in a good lug of extra virgin olive oil, then drizzle over the platter and serve.

Quick Lemon and Raspberry Cheesecakes

You will need:

  • 50g butter
  • 50g blanched hazelnuts
  • 8 gingernut biscuits
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 heaped teaspoons good quality lemon curd
  • 1 punnet raspberries (approx 150g)
  • 250g light or low fat  cream cheese, marscapone cheese or creme fraiche
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla paste or extract
  • A splash of milk
  • 1 tablespoon icing sugar
  • Good quality dark chocolate for grating ( approx 70% cocoa solids

Instructions:

Place 4 tumblers for these cheesecakes into the freezer.

Put the butter into a medium frying pan on a high heat.

Wrap the hazelnuts and biscuits in a clean tea towel and quickly bash with a rolling pin.

Turn the heat off under the melted butter, tip in the bashed nuts and biscuits and stir.

Finely grate in the lemon zest and mix well.

Take the tumblers out of the freezer and divide the mixture between them, gently patting it down until firm.

Put 1 heaped teaspoon of lemon curd into each tumbler and top with a few raspberries.

Spoon the cream cheese, marscapone or creme fraiche into a bowl and add the vanilla paste or extract and a splash of milk.

Stir, then add the icing sugar and another splash of milk and mix really well until it looks soft and silky smooth.

Divide between the tumblers, scrape over a few gratings of dark chocolate and set aside until you are ready to serve.

 

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